Shogo Tachibana greeted asteroid Ryugu with dread.
The cosmochemist with the University of Tokyo had spent 10 years helping to design a mission to Ryugu’s surface. To touch down safely, the spacecraft, Hayabusa2, needs to find broad, flat stretches of fine-grained dust on the asteroid. But on June 27, when Hayabusa2 finally reached its target after a three-and-a-half-year journey (SN...
The astonishing capture [of seven orcas off British Columbia] has made possible the first scientific study of killer whales in their more or less natural environment…. There is little doubt that the animals have a sophisticated language with which they can communicate with each other, but practically nothing is known about the complexity of their speech. — Science News, January 18,...01/10/2019 - 08:00 Animals
Recognize these rows and columns? You may remember a detail or two about this mighty table’s organization from a long-ago chemistry class. Elements are ordered according to their number of protons, or atomic number. Metals are mostly to the left and nonmetals to the right. The column at the far right holds the noble gases, named for their general unwillingness to interact with other elements...
Every field of science has its favorite anniversary.
For physics, it’s Newton’s Principia of 1687, the book that introduced the laws of motion and gravity. Biology celebrates Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) along with his birthday (1809). Astronomy fans commemorate 1543, when Copernicus placed the sun at the center of the solar system.
And for chemistry, no cause for...
It’s another raw day in St. Petersburg, Russia, but the man striding down the University Embankment along the Neva River isn’t pondering how the icy wind off the Gulf of Finland chills his bones or whether Emperor Alexander II’s reforms will increase salaries for professors like him. Instead, Dmitrii Mendeleev is imagining how he could reveal the chemical underpinnings of the universe...01/08/2019 - 07:15 History of Science, Chemistry
Letters to the Editor
Beer today, gone tomorrow01/08/2019 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Climate, Robotics
Rising temperatures and more frequent droughts could cut barley crop yields worldwide by the end of the century, leading to beer shortages and high prices, Jennifer Leman reported in “Add beer to the list of foods threatened by climate change” (SN: 11/10/18, p. 5).
Online reader Jean Beaulieu was hopeful that scientists will figure out an easy way to grow...
Reviews & Previews
Quantum physics has earned a reputation as a realm of science beyond human comprehension. It describes a microworld of perplexing, paradoxical phenomena. Its equations imply a multiplicity of possible realities; an observation seems to select one of those possibilities for accessibility to human perception. The rest either disappear, remain hidden or weren’t really there to begin...
The Science Life
WASHINGTON — Kimberly Foecke has a great relationship with her local butcher.
Though she buys loads of meat, Foecke is not a chef or the owner of a small zoo. She’s a paleobiologist who studies what Neandertals ate. And that involves, in her words, “experimental putrefaction, which is a fancy way of saying, I rot meat, all day, every day.”
Scientists know Neandertals ate a lot of...
Nearly one-third of American adults sleep less than six hours each night, a broad new survey shows.
Among nearly 400,000 respondents to the annual National Health Interview Survey, 32.9 percent reported this short sleep in 2017 — up from 28.6 percent in 2004 when researchers began noticing a slight drop in sleep time. That’s a 15 percent increase representing “more than 9 million people...
SAN DIEGO — Collecting cancer cells from patients and growing them into 3-D mini tumors could make it possible to quickly screen large numbers of potential drugs for ultra-rare cancers. Preliminary success with a new high-speed, high-volume approach is already guiding treatment decisions for some patients with recurring hard-to-treat cancers.
“Believe it or not, for some rare cancers...